Boston

April 18, 2013 - Leave a Response

After the bombing of the Boston Marathon on Monday, I went through a series of emotions.  None of which I felt I could accurately convey.  At first, I contemplated that I wouldn’t address it here at all since I usually avoid current events.  Most certainly, I have read numerous blog posts that were a thousand times more eloquent than anything my confused brain could put together.

But I do feel personally touched by Monday’s events.  I was born just about an hour away from Boston, and until about a year or two ago still had property up there.  For the past few years, I have gone up to visit friends.  Last fall, I ran in the Boston Half Marathon, the kid sister to the Boston Marathon.  I am a runner, and have run countless races and spectated and volunteered at others.  The Boston Marathon is my sport’s Olympics/Superbowl/World Cup.  I have several friends who live in the Boston area, and others who had traveled last weekend to run and watch the race, fortunately as far as I know everyone was ok.  I will always have a special place in my heart for the city of Boston.

But none of this is going to stop me.  I’m racing this weekend.  No, I’m not worried, other than the typical race week jitters.  It’s a tiny duathlon race out in a tiny rural area.  The threat level is minimal.  But even if it wasn’t, I’m still not worried.  It’s my duty to continue on with running, training, racing.

You see, Endurance Athletes have one thing that they do better than anyone else, regardless of their speed or ability.

They Endure.

The runners at the race on Monday will be OK.  They will endure on and have a high tolerance for pain and heartbreak.  It is the spectators, volunteers, first responders, family members, and residents of Boston who will need support.  Reach out to someone who fits into one of those categories, whether in Boston or in your hometown.  I know I still haven’t fully allowed myself to feel the emotions of Boston.  Maybe it hasn’t really sunk in yet.  So you’ll excuse me if I get a little teary or give extra hugs to volunteers at the race on Sunday.

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CRS

April 4, 2013 - 5 Responses

I have always had a terrible (mostly short-term) memory.   As a child, my mother would tell me I had to complete a certain number of tasks (clean my room, homework, take out trash, etc.) before I could do something I wanted to do (watch TV, play outside, etc.).  She would invariably list these tasks off to me verbally and off I would go to complete them.  Later, she would find me doing the thing I wanted to do and would quiz me whether I had completed X, Y, and Z.  Without fail, there would always be at least one that I forgot and I would say “Oops!” and get up and immediately go do it.  After a few times, my mother would get really mad and argue with me that I was just trying to skip out on my responsibilities, and I would argue that I just genuinely didn’t remember it.

Until one day, we both figured out that I just couldn’t retain that many things over time.  So, she would tell me one thing at a time and I would come back once I was done, or she would write everything down on paper and I could easily check off my “chores.”  (Note: This may be a major contributing factor to my incessant need to check things off a list, even to the point that I will write something down I just did so I can check it off. I know some of you do it too!)

But this memory quirk bleeds over into other areas of my life, not just lists and chores.  Because of my short-term memory challenges, I literally cannot retrace my steps most of the time.  So I have to be really careful where I put things, like my keys, shoes, the remote, parking my car.  Many times I can’t tell you what I did 10 minutes ago, so where I put my keys when I walked in the house last night, forget it.  For a while I thought it was just an absent-minded thing.  And maybe to an extent it is (ever find your remote in the fridge?), but I also can’t remember what someone told me an hour ago, so I always ask to get everything in writing.  (Note: Now I just blame that on my profession as a occupational hazard because people understand that better than I just have a crappy memory.)

C.R.S.

So for many years I used to sympathize with the joke that many middle-aged and older people like to espouse.  “I have a case of C.R.S. Can’t Remember Shit.”  And for the most part that is true.  However, I have this really detailed long-term memory.  I can remember things from when I was a very small child.  I can also remember with great detail conversations from a long time ago.  I have a little bit of a photographic memory for numbers, too.

“it’s still there…somewhere”

But one of the weirdest aspects of my memory is that I’ve never actually forgotten most things.  It’s tucked in there somewhere, I just need prompting.  (Note: This has been a major source of frustration for friends and family.)  Ask me about something and I will claim I don’t know what you’re talking about.  But if you keep talking to me about it, eventually something (maybe a visual cue like we were talking outside under the trees, or a certain word or joke that was said) and I will instantly remember everything, sometimes in almost photographic detail.  All it takes is that one thing to trigger my memory.

“everything has a place”

But this is very frustrating, because I can’t trigger my own memory of something when I’m trying to recall where I parked my car or what I did with last year’s swimsuit.  Mostly I’ve solved some of those issues by creating a certain type of order in my life.  Everything that is vital has a place in my house, and as long as I put things back in that place I will (mostly) be able to find it.  You might think I’d be one of those people who gets upset when you “move the cheese” in my house.  If you move a knick knack around I probably won’t notice, or if I do notice, I’ll just think I moved it at some point and don’t remember.  It’s like hanging out at Granny’s house right?  But if you move my keys, my whole world melts down.  I have no idea where to start to find them.

“source of the frustration?”

So recently I was thinking about this weird memory of mine.  It’s one of the most frustrating things in my life that neither I nor anyone else has control over.  On a daily basis it is a major exercise for me to recall the simplest things.  For years I always looked at it like my memory was broken, that it just didn’t work.  But as I think about it, it’s not the memory that’s broken, because I really can remember a lot of things, just not how I want to.  I think it’s the filing mechanism in my brain.  I take in all the information, but I just don’t always file it away in the appropriate spot.  It’s kind of like my brain is like my house.  There is a certain spot where my keys (or conversations with friends, or birthdates) go, and if I don’t put them away in their little “cubby hole” I have a hard time finding them without someone else’s help.  They’re in there somewhere, I just have a drunk child filing them away in inappropriate spots.

So maybe my memory isn’t so bad after all.  

It’s just my filing system that’s out of sorts.

Bless your heart

March 29, 2013 - 2 Responses

If you’ve never lived in the South, you’ve never had the privilege of hearing some of the most  fantastic oratory in this country.  And no, I’m not just talking about the diversity of accents and dialects down here.  I’m talking about the way people speak.  In particular, if you ever get the chance to listen to a Southern woman talk (usually about other people), stop and listen.

There are amazing quips and phrases that are heard on a daily basis in the South.  Some are very often in the form of a simile or metaphors.  Some of my favorites:

  • Fixing to: which means you are about to do something.  
  • Fixens: All the special trimmings with a meal (not to be confused with the phrase above)
  • Nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
  • More _____ than you can swing a dead cat at (Ok I actually don’t like this one much with the deceased animal reference)
  • Devil is beating his wife: It’s raining and the sun is shining simultaneously
  • You’re not from ’round here are ya?: We know you’re an outsider. We will keep an eye on you. (Usually said after you mispronounce one of our towns/streets/etc)
  • Rode hard and hung up to dry: looking pretty haggard
  • Sweating like a whore in church
  • He/She is dumber than a bag of hammers.
  • Gimme some sugar: Kiss/hug me.  Usually said to small children or cutesy to lovers.

But one of my favorite things about Southern oratory is the backhanded compliment.  If “you’re not from around here” you might confuse someone as complimenting you when really they’re pointing out your foibles.  I always tell people one of the best ways to spot it is to listen to the following phrase, it will usually precede or follow the aforementioned backhanded compliment or to soften the blow of a outright insult.

“Bless your heart.”

I adore this Southernism.  I like to use it whenever I can, and generally spread the gospel of “bless your heart” to my non-Southern friends.  How is it used?  Usually in conjunction with another Southernism.  For example: “He’s dumber than a bag of hammers, bless his heart.”  Now, see that doesn’t sound quite as bad as “he’s a dumbass” does it?  Throw in a nice drawl and I just want to sop it up with a biscuit.*

Another way to use “bless your heart” is when you see or hear someone doing something in an entirely wrong or bad way.  For example, when you see someone doing a terrible job of parking a giant car and then see it’s a little old lady who can barely see over the steering wheel and you say “bless her heart.”  Or recently when the woman at my gym was really trying to convince me that I needed to join their couch to 5k training group while I was wearing this shirt:

I almost never wear this shirt because it screams "I RAN A HALF MARATHON!"

I almost never wear this shirt because it screams “I RAN A HALF MARATHON!”

Or recently when I was getting my numbers checked at my gym and the employee helping me noticed my weight, BMI, body fat, and looked at me and said, “Wow…um…you must lift a lot of weights?”  Why thank you sweet Southern lady who was trying to think of the most polite way to say she was surprised by how healthy my numbers were.

* Gotta love this one.  Biscuits are a staple of Southern gastronomy.  They’re used to sop up the gravy, juices, chocolate, whatever is left on a plate.

So what are your favorite Southernisms?  Or do you have any that you need translating?

Thoughts on a long bike ride

March 22, 2013 - 4 Responses

Last weekend I went out on my longest bike ride ever. 45 miles.  For most Ironmen and ultra-cyclists, that’s a warm-up, but for me that’s 3+hrs of my life by myself and alone with my thoughts.  I thought I’d take you on that journey.

  • Alright let’s do this.  It’s so nice out, it’s going to be a great ride.
  • Ok, just get through these next couple intersections.  Please, nobody hit me.
  • Dammit missed the light,  stupid sensors don’t pick up bikes.  I’m turning anyway.
  • Wow my legs are feeling really good!
  • Ooh cows. (at this point you hear me audibly yell “MOO!” at the cows. Yes, I’m that person)

cows

  • Ew cows, definitely smell them this time.
  • It’s really rural out here.  Wait did I just hear gun shots?
  • Ok, cue sheet says turn left here.  And that’s the direction of the gun shots.  Is it hunting season?
  • I have no idea where I am.  I really hope I don’t get a flat.
  • Time for a Gu break!
  • More cows.  MOO!
  • Oh goody a train.  Stopped on the road.  How am I supposed to finish my ride? I don’t even know where I am.
You shall not pass!

You shall not pass!

  • Train is still not moving.  Guess I can walk around it to get to the other side.
  • Dammit, it started moving again (as I’m halfway down the side of the train)
  • Ok, back on the road.
  • OMG what is that SMELL?!!!!  Don’t puke!
  • Ooh look goats! Hey buddy how’s it going?

goat

  • What the? Chickens?
  • Time for a Gu break!
  • What was the name of that town?  I have no idea how to even get here in my car!
  • Hm, what am I going to destroy eat when I get back home. Maybe I should have another snack.
  • OMG.  STOP.  BRAKES.  That’s an alpaca farm! Shut up!

alpacas

  • Ok, back to a part of the course I recognize.  Getting closer to civilization.
  • Legs are starting to get a little tired, but still feeling surprisingly good.
  • Ooh, a Dr. Pepper on the side of the road.  I could really go for a soda right now.
  • 39 miles? Man, am I ever ready to get out of this saddle.
  • Ugh, I still have to run 2.5 miles after this.

So yeah, all that “legs feel good” nonsense was no help on my 12 mile run the next day, especially not on the big hill 2/3 of the way through the run.

Showing my Nuun love

March 12, 2013 - One Response

I have some fun news for this year’s racing season.  You may see me sporting a Nuun logo and you’ll see me drinking Nuun to hydrate (as I usually am).  I was selected as a Nuun Ambassador for 2013.

nuun-logo-lockup-M

 

No doubt if you’ve been reading this blog (or gone for a run with me in person), you’ve heard me talk about Nuun as a great way to hydrate for training, but also just for daily life.

Here are some of my favorite things about Nuun:

  • It’s a great way to get electrolytes without adding a bunch of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or other unknown chemicals.
  • It’s travel/airline friendly.  No liquids and very compact packaging!
  • You can use it during the day, not just for athletes competing!
  • Lots of GREAT flavors.
  • The main part of the tube is recyclable!
  • Tablets are scored to easily break it up for smaller water bottles.
  • You can add it to any other liquids to give an added flavor and electrolyte boost, like iced tea.
  • In a pinch I’ve heard you can chew up a tablet to beat cramps/dehydration.
  • You can find it in every running/biking store and sometimes in other stores around town. Or you can easily purchase online.

So, if you haven’t had a chance to try Nuun, pick up a tube and give it a try.  I love it and have been using it for years now.

BiT month 2

March 5, 2013 - One Response

Here’s the latest update on Body in Training. A little late to posting, but this is for February’s posting.  I’m up a little bit of weight and body fat, but nothing significant.  Also, it snowed the entire day I took this picture.  Brrrrr!  (hence the boots, hat, and mittens)  But unfortunately none of the snow really stuck to the ground.  And as you can see, Diva Kitty got a little bit of a romp outside.  Hopefully soon, I’ll also figure out how to get my resting heart rate and include that in the future BiT posts too.

Diva Kitty inspecting the snow covered grass.

Diva Kitty inspecting the snow covered grass.

Left shoulder blade starting to even out. And little bit of tricep action coming out.

Left shoulder blade starting to even out. And little bit of tricep action coming out.

Height: 63.5″
Weight: 135.6lbs
Blood Pressure: 129/81
BMI: 23.6
Body Fat: 20.8%
Fat weight: 28.2lbs
Lean (fat-free) weight: 107.4lbs
Total Body Water: 36.63 Liters, or 59.5%

Race Judicata report

March 1, 2013 - 4 Responses

I kicked off my racing season last weekend with the Race Judicata.  And because I like to be difficult, I didn’t just do one race, I did 2!  See this race is both a 5k and a 10k and you have the option to do both, back -to-back.  Also, it’s in one of the hilliest parks in the area.   Seriously, check out the elevation profiles!  It’s not for the faint-hearted or weak-quads.

5kCourse profile - 25:34 – 1st AG

I learned a good lesson, don’t take a caffeinated gel at the beginning of a race. I took off like a maniac and fortunately was able to recognize it early and slow my roll for the big hills (and second race) to come.  I think I managed the race well having trained the course for a couple months. At the start of the race, I was passed by this woman with a name on the back of her hooded sweatshirt.  I finally overtook her (and chicked a bunch of guys) on the long hill after 1 mile.  I guess she stayed pretty close behind me because at 1/2mi left, she passed me and we ran together for a while.  Finally on the last turn I decided to see if I could pull ahead of her and did.  I couldn’t tell what her age was, but didn’t want to lose a spot in a race I’ve trained hard for to someone wearing a hoodie.  I finished in 25:34.  Not a PR, but only 1 minute off my PR on a flat course.  And came in 1st in Age Group (thanks to overall winners, love them)!!  I’ve never come in 1st in running since I was a kid!!  I got a nice thermal lunch bag printed with the race logo on it for my AG win.  Oh and turns out hoodie girl was only 16.  So yeah, I’m more than twice her age and still took her out!!  Yeah!

Also, did I mention this is my first race of my new age group? (In running, I’ve been this age group in Triathlon already thanks to USAT rules).  Pretty sweet to get a podium finish in my first race in that age group.  Getting older pays off sometimes.

Then about 30 minutes or so later, after changing my shirt and switching my bib numbers, I lined up for the next race.

9.2kCourse Profile – 50:21 – 4th AG

This is traditionally a 10k, but the volunteers had the turnaround a little too soon.  Also, after training this course for 2 months, I still managed to miss the fact that there was a turnaround.  It threw me off when I saw people running back towards me after 3 miles, but apparently everyone else was thrown off that the turnaround was in the wrong place.  I think I managed the pace well on this one too.  Only took one regular gel at the beginning of the race (was too scared to take another caffeinated one after my near heart attack at the start of the 5k) and really wasn’t feeling really up to taking another during the run.  Fortunately since it was short, I wasn’t really ready for one yet.  At the very last couple tenths of a mile an older (60s+) guy caught up to me and started sprinting and yelling at me “don’t let me beat ya, c’mon” so we raced it in at the finish really hard and strong.  Sometimes you don’t think you have it in you until someone calls you on it.  Finished in 50:21, 4th Age Group.  Kinda wished I had gone about 20-30 seconds faster and gotten a double podium win.  But those who finished ahead of me only ran the 10k and weren’t coming right off of a FIRST PLACE win in a 5k!  So yeah, it was pretty awesome.

Pro: Overall not a bad day of racing and good kick off to the year.  Small.  Fairly quick turnover to the posting the times and presenting awards, so people aren’t waiting forever.  Long sleeve technical T swag.  Gorgeous course though a wonderful park.

Con: (Besides the course screw up on the 10k) I had heard that if you do both races you get cool arm warmers in addition to the t-shirt (something I actually need right now).  But this year it was just plain black gloves.  And they only had large man-hands sizes.  So I guess I’ll store those in my car for emergencies.

Sally’s Storage Solutions

February 12, 2013 - 4 Responses

Finally, a return of Sally’s Helpful Hints!  Storage solutions edition.

Last summer, I solved a small problem involving my kitchen.  I have terribly small useless kitchen cabinets set up in an inconvenient configuration.  So, my storage space in the kitchen is at a premium.  But I also have a crap-ton* of water bottles that I use for workouts and on the bike.  I originally saw this idea on another triathlete’s blog** a long time ago, but only recently implemented it.

bottles

Using an over-the-door shoe organizer to store my water bottles. Now they are neatly organized (along with matching lid) out of the way and not taking up precious cabinet space. I can easily grab them, fill up, and head out the door.

Which led to…

So, recently I was accumulating quite the stash of nutrition; protein bars, Gus, chews, nuun, etc. I could no longer neatly stack them on a counter, and I never knew just how many I had of anything.  I would have to dig through a stack, usually knocking more crap over, to get to what I wanted, digging it out of a box or wondering where that lone Clif Bar went.  So I decided to find another storage solution.  I originally thought some shelves or fancy drawer system hung on a spare wall would be great.  Until I found this.

nutrition

Boom!  Again, the over-the-door shoe organizer rocks my world!  This one has mesh pockets so I can see exactly what’s in each pouch and approximately how many I have.  So if I’m running low on Clif Shots or have WAY too many energy bars I know.  I can easily grab what I want based on flavor and needs and head out the door.  No more digging or causing nutrition avalanches in my kitchen.

Now, I think I need to replace my water bottle holder with one like the nutrition holder that has 24 instead of 20 pockets!

*Scientific measurement.

** I don’t remember who it was, so sorry for not giving the proper acknowledgement.

Signs of the weekend

January 27, 2013 - 4 Responses

While making my way around the town this weekend, I came across some fantastic signs.

Have you ever wished for an extra hour in the day?  Well apparently someone here found it.  Who knew it was at a coin laundry?  What a pleasant discovery just next door to a new-to-me Ethiopian restaurant?

25hrs

Next, while meandering downtown, I found out that the Convention Center was hosting the National Pavement Expo.  Ok, which one of you was keeping this secret from me?  You’re fired.  I mean, think of all the different kinds of nationally recognized pavement (gasp, even asphalt!) I could have seen on display?!  Just so you know, if the International Pea Gravel Convention is going to be anywhere within a 500 mile radius, you better give me a heads up!

pavement

And someone thought this town was boring!

Then on Sunday I made my first ever winter weather bike ride.  I just could not bear the thought of attempting to ride the equivalent of 25 miles on my trainer, so I bundled up and headed South to a rural part of the next county over.

At the mid-way point of my ride.

At the mid-way point of my ride.

In two different places I had to go through a single lane underpass under the railroad tracks.  While that sounds treacherous alone, it’s also on an S-curve with no mirrors.  I only had one close call in the 4 times I went through these.

At your own risk.

At your own risk.

And finally, while riding through an area that us Southerners like to call Cun-Tree (that’s “country” for the rest of you), I came across some very suspicious cows.  The first time I rode by, I noticed they all stopped and watched me carefully.  So, on my way back, I stopped to see them.  They were exceptionally apprehensive this time around.  I snapped a couple pictures anyway.

WTF, don't come any closer!

WTF, don’t come any closer!

Dammit.

Dammit.

How was your weekend? 

Body in Training

January 22, 2013 - 5 Responses

At the end of last year’s training season, I could not believe the transformation I could see on myself in just 4 short months.  It made me wish I had taken before and after photos so I could really measure the change.  So I decided I’d do that this year, the year of my first Half Ironman.

This month marks the first week of real training (i.e., paying money for spoon-fed ass-kicking workouts from a coach) for me.  So this entry will mark my baseline from where I start.  While I hate having my picture taken with a fury of a thousand hells, sometimes visual examples are best.  But for those of you (like me) who require more concrete data, I have also some numbers for you chew on.  My employer offers a service that takes a few health measurements, so I will obtain those as I go along too.

It's about 30-something degrees during this photo shoot. Hence the awkward smile and puffy hat.

It’s about 30-something degrees during this photo shoot. Hence the awkward smile and puffy hat.

back1

Sigh, left scapula still ‘scooped’ out from PTS.

Height: 63.5″
Weight: 135lbs
Blood Pressure: 128/78
BMI: 23.5
Body Fat: 20.3%
Fat weight: 27lbs
Lean (fat-free) weight: 108lbs
Total Body Water: 37.13 Liters, or 59.8%

At the end of last season, I loved how fit I was but I started to get a little too thin in some areas.  Since this year’s training will last at least twice as long as last season, I had one goal and that was put on a little bit of weight in the off season so I had something to lose.  Normally this is not an issue for me, and I managed to put on about 5 extra pounds and added a little extra fluff to my mid-section.

It is very important to note that this series of posts is not about losing weight.  In fact, if it’s anything like last season, I may remain the exact same weight, but things like blood pressure or body fat may change, and more importantly my shape and muscles may change.  I am a perfectly happy, healthy individual and do not feel the need to change anything.

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